Study abroad students find home away from home

Becoming a world traveler is something that appears unattainable for most college students living on a tight budget. Studying abroad is a loophole for this issue, and it is accessible for all students at Minnesota State.

“The things you experience abroad are indescribable, and everyone should live it first hand,” said Grace Sieber, MSU student. 

However, apprehension may arise from the initial steps taken. The application process is intimidating for students, and many are unaware of where to get started. The Center for Global Engagement on campus takes care of these questions and concerns, and can give students the right information to take off. 

“I’ve always known I wanted to study abroad, it was just the matter of actually applying,” Sieber said. 

After being given the extra push by her dad, Sieber decided to embark on a three-month-long adventure to Madrid, Spain, to work on her Spanish major.

“I wish I was there longer,” Sieber said. 

Sieber was the only American in her classes, and noticed plenty of cultural differences along the way. She had later eating times to adjust to, traveled by foot or by metro, utilized her Spanish tongue and she stayed with a host family.

“My host mom and I got really close during the three months,” Sieber said. “I was super nervous to live with strangers at first, but they were so sweet and made my stay super warm and welcoming.”

For MSU student Jana Weber, traveling to Greece for her studies was entirely new, as she had only left the Midwest once before.

“I feel like all of it was so overwhelmingly new to me, so I just literally loved every aspect,” Weber said. 

Similarly to Spain, Greece is made up of night owls who go to bed late, wake up late and eat late. Despite the culture shock, Weber made the most of her four-and-a-half month venture, where the biggest challenges were before the excursion, through gaining her visa. 

“I would say the whole visa process and applying and everything is really hard, but it’s so worth it,” Weber said. “I would have done that three times over and over again just to have the experience.”

Both Sieber and Weber navigated their academic experience through an in-person format. 

“The teachers wanted you to succeed and wanted to build a positive connection,” Sieber said. “My classes were very fun and personal since the class size was so small.” 

Through building connections and gaining familiarity, Sieber and Weber gained knowledge to carry them through more than their academic goals, but their life goals as well. 

“If you’re thinking about studying abroad, or on the fence about it, I say just do it,” Sieber said. “Studying abroad has not only helped me grow more independently, but it made me realize there is so much more than Minnesota. I am forever changed from this experience and Madrid will forever have a place in my heart.”

Write to Mercedes Kauphusman at mercedes.kauphusman@mnsu.edu

Header Photo: The Center for Global Engagement supports MSU’s mission of being a global campus through international activities & engagement opportunities worldwide. (Courtesy of Jana Weber)

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